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MADA: 28 violations against media freedoms in Palestine during the month of October

Ramallah (10/11/2021). October 2021 witnessed an increase in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine, as MADA Center monitored and documented a total of (28) attacks, compared to a total of (16) attacks recorded during last September, an increase of 75 % over the previous month's violations.

Violations of social media companies, especially Facebook, ranked second in terms of number of violations after the Israeli attacks, which were more serious in terms of number and nature of violation. MADA documented (3) violations committed by Palestinian parties in the Gaza Strip, while no violation by Palestinian parties was recorded during the month of September.




Israeli violations:

During the month of October 2021, the Israeli occupation committed (19) violation of the total of 28 violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The attacks this month affected a total of 14 journalists, including two female journalists, while some of them were subjected to complex attacks.

The Israeli violations accounted for 68% of the total violations, which included the physical assault of (3) journalists during their media and journalistic work. They are: Ahmed Abu Sobeih and Nisreen Al-Abed, who were severely beaten before they were arrested, and Journalist Muhammad Al-Khatib, who was targeted with tear gas bombs twice, and injured by a third one while covering the same event.

Journalist Al-Khatib was also detained, fined, and deported from the Bab al-Amoud area before his release. The photojournalist, Nisreen Al-Abed, was detained and deported from the Bab Al-Amoud area for 15 days. The journalists Musab Qafisha, Radi Karama and Sameh Manasra were also arrested, and Manasra's mobile phones were confiscated and returned to him upon his release. The Israeli occupation forces also prevented journalists Wahbi Makiya and Abdel Rahman Alami from covering an event in the Yusufiya cemetery in occupied Jerusalem, while the occupation intelligence summoned journalist Alaa Al-Rimawi for an interview in Ofer detention center.


Palestinian violations:

The number of Palestinian violations increased from zero during the last september to (3) violations during October. These violations included the arrest of journalist Alaa Al-Masharawi, the raid of his house, and the confiscation of his equipment by the Internal Security Agency in the Gaza Strip.


Facebook violations:

The management of Facebook company committed (6) violations against Palestinian media pages and Palestinian journalists during October, as Facebook restricted and deleted the content of these pages, which is the Qalandia media page and the “Sharek - Quds Network” page, which was established by the Quds Media Network in anticipation of closing its main page. It also restricted and deleted the content of the personal pages of the administrators of these pages, who are the journalists Hamza Al-Shobaki, Abdel-Raouf Shehadeh, Abdel-Qader Aqel, and Aseel Eid.

Violation details:

(10/1) The occupation forces targeted a Palestine TV reporter several times with gas bombs near the village of Beit Dajan near Nablus while covering clashes with the occupation forces that erupted in the place around 1:00 pm.

"Palestine TV" correspondent Muhammad Abdel Karim al-Khatib (32 years old) told MADA Center that the occupation forces targeted him several times with tear gas bombs while covering the confrontations that erupted in the village of "Beit Dajan" east of Nablus on Friday, 1 October, while covering the protest of the of the villagers against the settlement of their land.

Al-Khatib was targeted the first time when he was conducting an interview with the Minister of the Wall and Settlement Affairs, Walid Assaf. The occupation soldiers began firing tear gas canisters from a few meters away intensively, but he was not harmed.

At around 1:30 p.m., a soldier targeted him with a tear gas canister from a distance of about eight meters, which fell few centimeters away from his body, but it did not hit him. Less than half an hour later, another soldier targeted him with a gas canister from behind, which hit his right foot directly, causing bruises and great aches, and required field treatment.

Journalist al-Khatib was directly targeted every time, even though he was wearing the journalist's uniform, and it was clear to everyone that he is a journalist as he was carrying cameras and a microphone.

(05/10) The Israeli occupation forces arrested two journalists, Sameh Manasra, from Tulkarm, and Radi Karama, from Hebron, and released them on the same day after arresting them for several hours.

Free journalist Sameh Mahmoud Abdullah "Manasra" (37 years), told MADA Center that on Tuesday around 2:00 a.m. a force of the occupation army, about 6 patrols and a number of Special Forces, stormed his family house, which located in Ezbet Al-Jarad in the city of Tulkarm. After asking about Sameh's house, as his 5 brothers and their families live in the building, they searched it thoroughly and tampered with all its contents, they also confiscated two cell phones belongs to Sameh.

Sameh was taken to the military headquarter near Tulkarm, while he was handcuffed and blindfolded, and there he was interrogated by the new area intelligence officer for about 15 minutes. During the session, he was initially interrogated about general topics related to his work, life and previous arrests. At the same time, the officer threatened him indirectly to remain calm and not to cause trouble.

At about four in the afternoon, journalist Sameh was transferred to a military checkpoint near the city of Tulkarm and was released from there after returning his confiscated phones while keeping him blindfolded and handcuffed, and threatened to kill him if he did not abide by orders.

Journalist Radi Ahmed Karama, (32 year), a program presenter with Radio Masader, told MADA Center that a force of the occupation army - about 3 jeeps and a troop carrier - stormed the Abu Qutila neighborhood in Hebron city at 1:45 am on Tuesday, 05/10 , where only six soldiers entered the house without searching it. They requested the arrest of Radi and waited for him to prepare himself, but they did not produce any official papers as an arrest warrant.

Journalist Radi was transferred to the Kiryat Arba investigation center and remained there until eight in the morning without investigation, after which he was transferred to the “Etzion” center, where he stayed from eight in the morning until they released him at five in the afternoon. During the period of detention he was kept in very bad conditions, as there was a bed without mattresses or cover, and he was not given any food during the period of his detention.

)10/13) Quds News Network was subjected to restrictions and prosecution by Facebook, where access was restricted and many posts on the network's page were deleted.

Hamza Amin Al-Shobaki, (24 year), a producer and presenter with the Quds News Network, stated that the alternative network's page, which was established several months ago under the name "Sharek - Quds Network", was subjected to many violations during the month of September, as Facebook restricted access to many followers, and removed at least 50 other posts that contained images or posts with a “banned” words.

Despite a previous agreement between the Quds network and Facebook that the “banned” words by Facebook should be placed in parentheses and attributed to their main source in order to avoid deletion, but the company did not abide by this despite the network's commitment to the publishing standards on Facebook.

It also offers network page administrators to restrict access to their profiles and delete posts about them. Among them is the journalist Abdel Raouf Shehadeh, who works in the editorial department of the Quds Network in the Gaza Strip, and the journalist Abdel Qader Akel, who also works as an editor in the same network, but in the West Bank. Hamza Al-Shobaki was also prevented from broadcasting live for 30 days, and from broadcasting funded advertisements for a period of 60 days, in addition to preventing him from responding to messages earlier for a month.

Facebook has also restricted access to the personal pages of Page admins and delete posts. Among them is the journalist Abdel Raouf Shehadeh, who works in the editorial department of the Quds Network in the Gaza Strip, and the journalist Abdel Qader Akel, who also works as an editor in the same network in the West Bank. Hamza Al-Shobaki was also prevented from broadcasting live for 30 days, and from broadcasting sponsored Ads for a period of 60 days, in addition to preventing him from responding to messages earlier for a month.

(14/10) The Israeli occupation authorities arrested the freelance journalist Musab Khamis Abdel Khaliq Qafisha (27 years) on Thursday evening during his visit to the prisoner on hunger strike Miqdad Al-Qawasmi, and sentenced him to 40 days in prison.

His brother, Qassam Qafisha, stated that on Thursday 14/10, Musab, accompanied by two of his friends, went to visit the prisoner on hunger strike for 88 days in that date, "Miqdad Al-Qawasmi", in Kaplan Medical Hospital. After the visit ended at about 4:00 pm, and before Musab and his colleagues left the hospital, the hospital security arrested them and took them to the police station on charges of entering Israeli areas without a permit, to be transferred from there to Ramle prison.

Musab's court session was held on Sunday, October 17, and it was decided to postpone it until Thursday, October 21, during which it was decided to sentence him to 40 days in prison on charges of entering Israel without a permit and visiting a prisoner who poses a threat to Israel's security.

According to the lawyer of the journalist Mosab (Raafat Nashef), the arrest of Mosab and his colleagues was due to their visit to a security prisoner and not because of entering Israel without permits, because there are many citizens who were arrested on Thursday for the same reason and were released on the same day.

(18/10) The occupation police arrested the photojournalists Ahmed Abu Sobeih and Nisreen Salim while they were covering the confrontations between citizens and the police forces in the Bab Al-Amoud area on Monday 18/10. The police released the journalist Nisreen the next day, while the detention of journalist Ahmed continued for two days .

Ahmed Muhammad Abu Sobeih, (23 year), a photographer for the Qastal Media Network, told MADA that he went to the Bab al-Amoud area at 3:00 p.m. on Monday to cover the current events, after he learned that there were confrontations between citizens and the police forces. When he and his colleague Nisreen Salem arrived, they started taking photographs and videos documenting violations against the citizens, Israeli police forces attacked and beat them.

The assault began on his colleague Nasreen, and when Ahmed tried to help her, he was also assaulted and abused for a period of no less than 10 minutes. They were beaten with fists and sticks, and soldiers punched them with fists and kicked them with their feet. This resulted in a small fracture in Ahmed's right shoulder, in addition to other marks on different parts of his body, especially the place of the iron handcuffs.

Ahmed was arrested and taken to the police station in the Baba Al-Amoud area, where he remained for 15 minutes while continuing to beat and abuse him, after which he was transferred to the Postal Police Station, where he was interrogated on charges of participating in demonstrations and beating a soldier.

 After the investigation ended, Ahmed was transferred around 1:00 a.m. that night to the Al-Maskobiya Investigation Center, where he was presented to the court the next day, Tuesday 19/10. However, the trial was postponed until Wednesday, 10/20, in which it was decided to release him under unfair conditions, which is: deportation from the area Bab al-Amoud, Salah al-Din Street and Sultan Suleiman Street until 20/12, house arrest until 24/10, a fine of 750 NIS, and a financial guarantee of 3000 NIS to ensure that he does not violate the conditions.

Journalist Nisreen Ahmed Tawfiq al-Abed, (23 year), a photographer for the Qastal Media Network, told MADA Center that she was in the Bab al-Amoud area around 1:30 p.m., and while covering the attacks on citizens, she was targeted by a sound bomb that fell directly beside her, but no damage was caused. After turning to see the source of the bomb, she was directly assaulted by the police, severely beaten and abused, which made her seek help from her colleague Ahmed, who was also severely beaten.

Nisreen was also taken to the checkpoint, but by dragging her down the stairs while the beating continued and her hands were tied back, and there she was also beaten and threatened with pepper gas.

At two o'clock in the afternoon, Nasreen was transferred to a police station on Salah El-Din Street. On the way, one of the soldiers asked her in Arabic, "Where will they take you?" She replied, "I don't know." Then he started insulting her with racist terms, such as saying "You are a slave", referring to her dark brown skin.

Nisreen remained at the police station until eight in the evening in very bad conditions, where it was very cold because of the air conditioning, and she was given rotten food (old, moldy bread). She stayed there for several hours.

After that, Nisreen, handcuffed, was transferred to the “Oz” investigation center in Jabal al-Mukabber and stayed there for four hours. The Israeli authorities interrogated her for about an hour about her pushing of a female soldier, and her media work, where they accused her of working with “radical and politically affiliated media group”. Then she was released at 1:30 after midnight on Tuesday 19/10 on the condition that she keeps away from Bab al-Amud (Damascus gate) a distance of 150 meters for a period of 15 days, and that she signs a guarantee of 5,000 shekels in the name of Nisreen and another 5,000 shekels in the name of her father.

(22/10) Facebook suspended the Qalandia Media Center page from publishing for 24 hours, and imposed restrictions on the page’s director’s facebook page for 90 days, Aseel Sobhi Eid, who works as a programmer and reporter for Palestine TV in Ramallah.

Journalist Aseel stated that she had received a message from the Facebook management on 10/22 through the “Qalandia Media Center” page, which is managed by the journalist, preventing her from publishing on the center’s page for 24 hours on the pretext of violating the company’s standards and policy. This was related to a publication that the journalist published on the center’s page on 26/09 commemorating the anniversary of the martyrdom of one of the leaders of the Qassam Brigades.

Facebook also restricted the journalist's personal page and prevented her from broadcasting live videos or sponsoring publications, in addition to preventing her from managing or creating any other pages for a period of 90 days.

(29/10) The Israeli occupation forces obstructed the work of Palestinian journalists near the Yusufiya cemetery in occupied Jerusalem, and prevented them from covering the events there. The Israeli forces did not acknowledge the Palestinian press card or the international press card.

Wahbi Kamel Makiya, 38, a freelance photographer, stated that he was near the Yusufiya cemetery in occupied Jerusalem at 1:30pm on Friday, October 29, to cover the violations of the occupation forces in the Yusufiya cemetery. The event included chants by Palestinian youth protesting against the violations committed by Israeli forces in the cemetery. Wahbi began filming the events when the occupation police started throwing stun grenades at those present to disperse the crowd. An Israeli policewoman approached him and asked him to refrain from filming and asked him to leave the area. He said he was a journalist, at which point the police officer asked him for his Israeli press ID specifically. Wahbi presented both his Palestinian and International press ID but not the Israeli one.

The occupation forces also prevented journalist Abd al-Rahman Nader Alami from covering the events at the Yusufiya cemetery and kept him away from it, despite presenting his press card.

Among the journalists present at the scene (Awqaf photographer in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Rami Al-Khatib, Nader Bebars, (works at Palestine TV), Ahmed Jaradat, (Al-Araby TV correspondent), Ammar Awad, Reuters photographer, Nisreen Al-Abed, photographer for Al-Qastal Network), all those present, including the journalists, were dispersed. In just one hour, at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Worthy to mention that the occupation forces began razing and excavating the Yusufiya cemetery in East Jerusalem since October 10, 2021, in a flagrant violation of the sanctity of the Muslim dead in it, to turn part of it into a biblical garden.

(31/10) The Internal Security Agency in the Gaza Strip kidnaped and arrested journalist, Alaa El-Din Khalil Al-Mashharawi (53 years), owner and director of the Al-Mashreq News Electronic Corporation, at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, while he was on Omar Al-Mukhtar Street in the center of Gaza City. They also stormed his house and confiscated mobile phones. And laptops from him later.

Nabil Al-Mashrawi, the brother of journalist Alaa, stated that a car without a number plate carrying a group of masked individuals in civilian clothes was on Al-Shuhada Street in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza, in front of his workplace, and kidnapped him while he was getting out of his office at three in the afternoon in front of passersby.

Al-Masharawi was taken to an unknown location, and at five o'clock in the evening he was transferred to Ansar Central Prison of the Internal Security Agency.

At about six o'clock in the evening, a force from the Internal Security went to the apartment of the journalist Al-Mashrawi, located in Al-Rimal neighborhood, and stormed his house and searched it very carefully and withdrew after an hour after confiscating 4 laptops and 3 cell phones that belong to the journalist and members of his family.

(31/10) The Israeli occupation intelligence summoned journalist, Alaa Hasan Jamil Al-Rimawi (43 years), the director of J-Media network and the coordinator and correspondent of Al-Jazeera Mubasher, and subjected him to investigation about his media work and his coverage of the events.

Al-Rimawi told Mada Center that he received a summons by phone on Thursday, 28 October, to meet with the Israeli intelligence service in Ofer Detention Center.

The journalist went to Ofer detention on Sunday, October 31, at 12:30 in the afternoon, and after waiting for an hour, he entered the investigation department where two officers from the intelligence service interrogated him about the contents of his journalistic work, and whether he intended to cover certain events in reference to Area A intrusions by the army. The three-and-a-half-hour investigation included threats of arrest in case he incites against them or if he covers the army’s violations and incursions, because journalists are generally tracked by the intelligence, they said.